4 Nov 2010

Your Own Personal Jesus (Part 1)

I never once imagined as a blogger that I would one day contemplate to dedicate a post to All Saints' Day (celebration of the dead, 1st November), and then from there dig into the religious theme further... You see, life is full of surprises and it's amazing how you can surprise yourself sometimes!

I am a christian by birth and family tradition, only not a practicing one and my faith has had its share of ups and downs in tune with the critical moments of life stages. My relationship with faith is complicated, and not one I understand enough to attempt to discuss openly here. My belief in God and what it encompasses, from our purpose on earth to redemption, good vs. evil, and the afterlife, is still a collision of contradicting ideas, and I have to confess on this that I am not passionate enough by the subject to spend time on it, question it, research it and forge an enduring opinion. I admit that my understanding of the christian faith is limited, but I have been to mass enough times to go through the basic prayers by heart, yet the évangiles, the apostles, and Jesus's detailed chronological life events still flirt with confusion and mystery in my head.

However the one constant that I have remained loyal to since reaching adulthood is over the non-practicing christian's relationship with religious faith, from a sociological perspective: the (increasingly loose) interaction (interference?) of the religious element within personal obligations in the name of society tradition. Here I will attempt to shed some of my views on the subject.

Our increasingly secular society still maintains a loose christian connection to life events, although some of the ceremony aspects may be masqueraded as a 'second-hand' approach to religious faith, with hypocritical undertones in the name of through-the-motions tradition. The major moments which punctuate the life of the modern day christian and, in the same breath the only times when they will be likely to step inside a church and engage remotely with their faith are 'traditionally' down to: christening day, communion day, wedding day, funerals, and possibly Christmas mass and Easter Sunday mass.

Corsica, like other South European regions (namely Italy or Portugal), still displays a more pronounced religious ardour/ fervour than other parts of Europe, although parishioners and priests numbers alike continue to decline. In an interesting parallel, Corsica is also reputed for traditionally maintaining stronger family values and ties than elsewhere in France, although those values are now being put to the test by a more urban and individualistic lifestyle.

Besides Corsica and its Southern counterparts have maintained the ceremonial/ visual aspect of catholicism through the traditional street processions. One not to miss is the Catenaciu, a Corsican re-enactment of a hooded 'Christ' carrying the cross down the village streets on Good Friday night, where the cross bearer is a local man in effect hiding his identity from the parishioners by wearing a hood, while seeking pardon from the church for a sin he has committed.

Other processions punctuate the religious calendar to celebrate a particular saint usually associated with a local church and/ or trade (ex: the fishermen's patron saint). Those processions gel religion and community spirit together by coming down the streets into the community. (to be continued)

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting and insightful post. I very much enjoyed a number of religious traditions and processions as a child in Germany. I only vaguely understood their religious significance. Even so, as you said, these rituals bring the community together.